NEED TO KNOW! Wed love to see Kleins book reviewedand we think you might should read it: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2007
DISAPPEARING THE LUNACY: Like tristero, we were struck by Gail Collins column in Thursdays New York Times. Collins what, us give a flying fig? tone almost always drives our analysts wild. But like tristero, we were struck by the way she described Mike Huckabees intervention in a tragic Arkansas parole case.
Huckabee, of course, is the latest conservative Republican whom all mainstream journos are required to love. (The last Big Dem who was treated this way was Bill Bradley, in 1999 only.) He thus inherits the John McCain Chair, a seat left vacant from Campaign 2000. In her piece, Collins played good upscale High Manhattan pseudo-liberal, looking for ways to savage those red-state conservatives, the ones who wont vote for the wondrous Huckabee. Eventually, she gets to Wayne DuMonds parole. You may not know this case at all. But heres how Collins described it:
COLLINS (10/25/07): Lately, anti-Huckabee conservatives have been suggesting he's soft on crime. The story involves an Arkansas man, Wayne DuMond, who was accused of kidnapping and raping a high school cheerleader in 1985. While he was free awaiting trial, masked men broke into his home, beat and castrated him. His testicles wound up in a jar of formaldehyde, on display on the desk of the local sheriff. At the trial, he was sentenced to life plus 20 years. When Huckabee became governor, DuMond was still in an apparently hopeless situation, though theoretically eligible for parole. Huckabee championed his cause, and wrote him a congratulatory letter when he was finally released in 1999. Then in 2000 DuMond moved to Kansas City, where he sexually assaulted and murdered a woman who lived near his home.What absolute, consummate garbage! Within the confines of Collins silly, pseudo-lib tale, Huckabee is a clearly tortured man whose greatest sin was showing compassion to a prisoner who appeared to deserve it. Poor DuMond, of course, was in an apparently hopeless situation when Darling Huckabee began to champion his cause; she forgets to say that DuMond was sentenced to life plus twenty years at his trial because he was found to be guilty of that vicious kidnap and rape. But so what? With this portrait, Collins achieves her objectives. She panders to Huckabee, and assails those savage red-staters, the ones who liberated DuMond from his testicles. She also disappears the 1990s. But these days, when isnt that done?
We wont try to tell the full story of DuMond and Huckabee. If you want to read a gripping journalistic account, well recommend this June 2001 news report in the Kansas City Star, after DuMond, now paroled and living in Missouri, has murdered at least one woman there. (He was paroled in Arkansas on the stipulation that he find another state to live in.) But lets state the point which Collins leaves out as she boo-hoos, sobs and weeps over Huckabee: The Arkansas cheerleader whom DuMond kidnaped and raped was a distant cousin of Governor Bill Clinton! And by the rules of the 1990s, therefore, crazy tales were spread all about, suggesting that DuMond was the latest innocent victim of President Clintons vicious wrath. By the time Huckabee got involved this story, the drive to let poor DuMond out of jail was largely being fueled by this typical, Clinton-hating lunacy. In short, this whole tragic tale was another chapter in the insanity of the American 1990s. And this, of course, must be disappeared.
Collins forgot to mention this fact when she boo-hoo-hooed and cried real tears about poor compassionate Huckabee, who, of course, can now be found in the McCain Memorial Chair.
Did Governor Huckabee champion DuMond because of the Clinton-hating insanity? For today, well try not to mind-read the case; again, well suggest that you read that news report if you want to ponder this tragedy. But we will offer the following thoughts about Collins latest bowdlerized tale:
Its Hard Pundit Law in New York and DC: The lunacy of the 1990s must be disappeared. You have to pretend that you cant understand why Hillary Clinton is hated so much. (Disappeared: The fact that mainstream news orgs, all through the 1990s, allowed the nations biggest crackpots to accuse a first lady of serial murders.) You have to pretend that you dont really know what happened to Candidate Gore. (Disappeared: The fact that the simpering apes of our mainstream press corps conducted a two-year war on his candidacy.) And now, you even invent fairy tales in which Governor Huckabee did what he did because he was so filled with compassion—compassion DuMond appeared to deserve! (Disappeared: The utterly lunatic Clinton-hating which drove this event, which still helps fuel our politics.) As they giggle their way through their bowdlerized columns, theres nothing these people wont type and say to disappear the 1990s—in whose lunacy they and their news orgs played so vital a part. Kept from hearing about that insanity, we live with its ugly, inane, grimy aftermath, every single day of our lives.
SMALL FACTUAL POINT: Collins states it as a fact: While [DuMond] was free awaiting trial, masked men broke into his home, beat and castrated him. But is that what actually happened? Theres an alternate theory about DuMonds mutilation. Gene Lyons explains in an update at the end of tristeros post.
ANOTHER FINE EXAMPLE: The lunacy of the 1990s must be disappeared—especially, when it involves mainstream news orgs. We thought of this precept when we read Kevin Drums unobjectionable summary of the new cover piece in The Nation.
We havent read the Chris Hayes piece; well assume its accurate and informative. But Kevins post is headlined, The new right-wing smear machine—and thats where the disappearing comes in. According to Kevin, the Nation piece examines the way the right-wing generates smears through chain e-mail. Indeed, in the excerpt Kevin quotes, we see that The Nation takes us back to the 1990s—even to a lot of the chain letters that were accusing Al Gore of things in 2000. (For the sake of mere accuracy, let us guess that most of these accusations started in 1999. Because were so hapless, our side almost always starts by understating this story, by half.)
As we say, this Nation report may be quite informative. But it wasnt just (or principally) chain e-mail which slimed Al Gore in 1999 and 2000; much more significantly, it was the entire mainstream press corps, along with The Nation itself. Absent the bald-faced lying of the Washington Post and the New York Times—we showed you one clownish example just yesterday—those right-wing chain e-mails wouldnt have done diddly-squat during Campaign 2000. But your mainstream and liberal news orgs work hard to keep you clueless about their own recent lunacy. Under the rules, youre allowed to know what the right-wingers did. Youre not allowed to hear about the Post or the Times—or about The Nation.
In this way, these loathsome hustlers continue to treat you like naifs, marks, know-nothings, rubes. This new Nation piece may be quite informative—but somehow, the scriveners at these high-minded orgs always seem to know what to leave out. We know! Some of you dont want to get this point—but then, thats what makes us such perfect marks! As noted, we havent read the report in question—only the summary offered by Kevin. So go ahead—read it and see what you find there. Do you learn what the mainstream and liberal press did? Or are you consigned to your ghetto again, invited to rail about right-wingers—with everyone else disappeared?
Special report: Book whirl!
PART 4—NEED TO KNOW: An admirer of Naomi Klein e-mailed, touting her book, The Shock Doctrine:
E-MAIL: Thank you for putting the spotlight on this important book. I have been recommending it to anyone who will listen, and many who won't. As a student of politics and history my whole life (if you believe my sheepskins I am a political scientist and a legal scholar), the individual chapters retold in the book are nothing new, but Klein's genius is in putting together the cohesive story of what a failure "free market" policy has been every single place and every single time it has been imposed, and the relationship between the [Milton] Friedman doctrine and the death, destruction and erosion of civil liberties and human rights that inevitably follows.Is our e-mailer right? We cant really tell you. As we incomparably e-mailed back, were far from expert on Kleins subject matter, which helps explain why weve gnashed our teeth as American newspapers refuse to review her. But we also told our e-mailer this (and no, we havent finished the book): For us, The Shock Doctrine is only the second book which has even begun to make sense of Bushism. (The first such book: Made in Texas, by Michael Lind. Texan Bush as Central American oligarch,) All of a sudden, those eccentric decisions by eccentric old Rummy arent quite so eccentric any more—quite the opposite. But yes: Though we tend to find Kleins portrait convincing, wed like to see it critiqued.
But that just wasnt in the cards at the Great Raccoon Lodge last weekend. The Post still hasnt reviewed The Shock Doctrine—but Sundays Book World played an embarrassing game of kissy-poo with lodge member Howard Kurtz. Meanwhile, another lodge member has written a book which noses around in the Clintons marriage—and so Tim Russert, the Head Raccoon, invited its author onto his program to knock over favorite old garbage cans and root through familiar old tales. (Theres a curious amnesia about Whitewater, we were told during this segment! None of the Raccoons said squat.) Meanwhile, Paul Krugman found his new book assailed, right there in his own newspaper. Klein was ignored—and Krugman was trashed. In Raccoon culture, thats what will occur—if your coloring strays outside the lines.
They love the stories they always have told—the lodge-friendly stories they always have heard. When Russert chatted with Sally Bedell Smith, he just couldnt wait to start quoting:
RUSSERT (10/21/07): Sally Bedell Smith, your new book, For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton, the White House Years— you write about her 2000 campaign in this way. And let me read it for you and our viewers.Too funny! As in 2000, Clinton is using her focus-group research. Shes trying to deal with the way shes perceived—as threatening, unwomanly, ruthless, greedy, very controlling and self-serving. The words rolled off the Head Raccoons tongue—words that hed stumbled upon in a book. And because those words had been in that book, its author was rushed on the air.
Russert loved the sound of those words. (Perhaps he recalled the ruthless way the word ruthless was used against Candidate Gore.) But its funny! Throughout the course of this segment, Russert forgot to mention a fact—the fact that Clinton, for all her greedy/threatening/unwomanly ways, has led Giuliani in all national polls over the course of the past four months. As far as we can tell, Russert has never mentioned this fact on the air—although twice, in July, he cherry-picked stunningly, suggesting that Rudy was really ahead. We couldnt help thinking: Just imagine where Clintons numbers would be if she werent perceived to be so ruthless—and so unwomanly, of course.
But then, the Raccoons have always told that tale. Most likely, they always will.
That said, wed like to see Kleins book reviewed—and wed suggest you consider reading it. It covers high-profile events of the past thirty-five years; throughout, Klein discusses the ways certain elites have reaped huge gains from the tragic events that unfold. And its funny! As we have read this book, weve often thought of the well-bred people who sit on those Sunday TV programs. Theyre being paid extremely large sums themselves—and they seem to know that they must never say so.
Repeatedly, Kleins book has made us think of those likable, dissembling Raccoons. For us, its part of what makes her account ring true. If we could use an old southern term, its why you might should read it.
OUR PRAYER: If other big newspapers do review Klein, we hope theyll do better than Tom Redburn did in this Times review, the one with conspiracy right there in its title. [H]er argument constantly overreaches, Redburn says—but he skips the chance to give examples. In her book, Klein goes through a long list of famous episodes, from various countries youve actually heard of. We hope the next reviewer who rolls his eyes will explain whats wrong with even one such account.
Meanwhile, Klein has rolled her own eyes a bit, at her reviews in the worlds business press. This eye-rolling took place in The Guardian. You know what to do—just click here.